Review: Verizon Stream TV provides an affordable Android TV option with a passable veneer.

One of the great things about Android TV is that it can accommodate a wide range of diverse hardware and software needs, just like the Android platform on which it is built. Some businesses can even significantly tweak the platform using the Operator Tier. That’s what Verizon does with their $69 Stream TV box, which is generally speaking a pretty good product.

CAPABLE AND SLIPPERY HARDWARE WITH A STEADY REMOTE The Verizon Stream TV is a plain black box when it comes to hardware, but I genuinely enjoy the way it looks. In addition to being skinny on a TV stand and having a small footprint, it also lacks loud branding other from a small Verizon checkmark at the top.

A number of ports can be found on the device’s rear. There includes a charging connector, a full-size USB, and a 4K HDR HDMI output (a cable is included). Although it’s not a crazy setup, it offers far more than a dongle like the new Chromecast or Mi TV Stick. As a result, there is a lot more versatility in terms of storage and accessories. Although Ethernet would have been ideal, the full-size USB connector may still be used rather easily.

The remote can be found by pressing the solitary button in the upper right corner. The remote’s button will make a rather loud noise when pressed, making it easy to locate it wedged between cushions or behind a cupboard. Such traits are really enjoyable to observe, and I wish they were more often.

In relation to the remote, it’s a good one! The rectangular box is made of plastic; however, I wish the corners weren’t so sharp and the top plastic weren’t so easy to scuff. Despite this, the box is simple to operate, and pressing the buttons is comfortable. A Google Assistant button is prominently displayed, along with buttons for controlling the playing. It was a tremendous delight to use and the remote was really responsive. There has a number pad and a Guide button in addition to those usual buttons. Although I had hoped for YouTube TV compatibility, they are limited to Pluto TV.

A VERIZON SKIN ON ANDROID TV IS NOT NEARLY AS BAD AS IT SOUNDS You would undoubtedly want to flee if I told you Verizon would design an Android skin, and I wouldn’t blame you. To be honest, Android’s carrier software has typically been sluggish and unattractive. Just take a look at the that is intended to appear to have been torn from 2015. Ew.

Thankfully, Verizon’s improvements to Android TV do not fall under this. Verizon covers the home screen of Android TVs with a thick, if not terrible, skin using the Operator Tier. The skin is rather clean and uniform throughout, in contrast to the skin T-Mobile applied to its TVision dongle, and it is reminiscent of the company’s design language that you will see throughout its websites and apps.

Here, the basic design of the homescreen is mostly unaltered. Content recommendations are at the top, followed by apps, and then the Continue Watching area. However, there are more tabs. One is solely for apps, while the other is for rent/buy. As the content can be directly rented from Verizon, a cost that can be added straight to a Fios customer’s bill, this is where Verizon generates money. Nice, but not at all something I was interested in. However, if you only want to use this gadget as a standard streamer, you can happily disregard all of Verizon’s extras.

The skin’s tendency to duplicate Settings was the only thing that irritated me. On the main screen, there is a Settings button, but that opens the settings for your Verizon account and experience. Just to get Android’s actual settings, where you can change things like WiFi, Bluetooth, and app preferences, you must navigate through that entire menu. Annoying.

In my perspective, Verizon’s skin makes good use of the Operator Tier. It makes it possible for Verizon to release a streaming device that feels like its own device while maintaining Android TV’s functionality and not over-promoting Verizon’s services. They aren’t in the way, but they are there if you need them. I greatly like Google TV or the basic Android TV experience, but this isn’t bad either.

We should also talk briefly about performance. It’s sufficient. One of the newest alternatives, the Amlogic S905X4 chip inside, offers AV1 decoding. With 2GB of RAM, it is coupled. Although it won’t completely blow you away, it’s plenty for 4K HDR and almost any app you throw at it. During my testing, I used Netflix, Hulu, Disney, Peacock, and HBO Max without experiencing any problems. However, some Verizons listing users have mentioned Hulu problems as well as other performance difficulties.

DO YOU NEED TO CHOOSE THIS OVER A CHROMECAST? Who is this for is ultimately the crucial question. Actually, the question is difficult to answer, especially since the Chromecast with Google TV debuted at the same time. It’s difficult to sell the $70 Stream TV now that there’s that very great $50 dongle available.

Here is my opinion of the product now that I’ve used it for a few months. The hardware of the Stream TV is its first benefit. You can notice that Google’s Chromecast is a little underpowered rather frequently. Even if Stream TV isn’t a powerhouse, its slightly improved hardware will help it live longer. For some media center arrangements, the hardware is better as well. There is also the remote, which I discovered to be dependable and comfortable to use. The fact that the box has a button to keep you from losing it is also quite nice.

Although Verizon Stream TV won’t appeal to everyone, I believe it to be a respectable choice for Verizon Fios consumers. For some, rentals that appear directly on your account will be helpful, and for others, the fact that this box is occasionally given away to brand-new clients makes it a no-brainer.

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